March 21, 2019

Contact: Teddy Rodger
Programs Manager, The Lab
Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, recording artist Somi, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Martyna Majok, author Azar Nafisi, actress Kathleen Chalfant,Phantom Limb Company, and Renegade Theatre highlight roster of leading artists and companies from more than 40 countries as The Lab launches citywide, biennial festival with full-scale productions, residencies, concerts, and workshops, culminating in The Gathering, a four-day event with 200 visionary artists from around the world.

Washington, DC — The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics has finalized the line-up for the inaugural version of CrossCurrents a DC-wide biennial festival that highlights innovative artists who are harnessing the power of performance to humanize global politics.

The festival will feature dynamic, socially-engaged performances from around the world and will catalyze conversations around critical topics such as the global refugee crisis, climate change, the rise of hate and polarization, and countering violent extremism.

According to Lab Co-Director Derek Goldman, who curated the festival, “CrossCurrents is in many ways the epitome and culmination of The Lab’s seven years of work, as we bring together groundbreaking artists and performances from around the world that are tackling society’s most challenging issues. These artists give us hope, and CrossCurrents will celebrate and amplify the power of their innovative work to offer models for resistance and transformation in these difficult times.” Goldman adds, “CrossCurrents, and its signature event, The Gathering, will build relationships and strengthen the community of artists engaged in this work around the world, many of whom toil in relative isolation against daunting obstacles. CrossCurrents will thus be a catalyst for essential dialogues and new collaborations.”

Among the featured events during CrossCurrents will be:

Falling Out
New York’s Phantom Limb Company, known for its marionette puppetry and multimedia theatrical production, has created this haunting response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in collaboration with butoh dance master Dai Matsuoka. Falling Out is the company’s final installment in an environmental trilogy exploring our changing relationship to nature over time. Presented by The Lab, in partnership with the Kennedy Center (April 4–5 at 7:30pm, the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater).

Somi in Residence
A three-day residency with acclaimed transatlantic vocalist and songwriter Somi, including a full-scale concert performance of Petite Afrique, her award-winning song cycle about the dignity of immigrants and the gentrification of Harlem’s vibrant African quarter (Thursday, April 11 at 8pm, Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall), and an intimate salon performance fromDreaming Zenzile, a modern jazz opera based on the extraordinary life of South African singer and political activist Miriam Makeba (April 12, 4pm, Georgetown University).

Republics of Imagination
A free evening of cross-cultural performances inspired and co-curated by celebrated authorAzar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Republic of Imagination), highlighting the dangerous power of performance and literature in repressive times, in partnership with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. This program is in conjunction with Woolly Mammoth’s forthcoming production of Describe the Night (May 27–June 3, 2019), Rajiv Joseph’s 2018 Obie Award winning play, and will include an excerpt from that play along with material from James Baldwin, Azar Nafisi, David Grossman, Wole Soyinka, and others. The performance will feature an ensemble of leading DC actors including Rick Foucheux, Jon Hudson Odom, Howard Shalwitz and others, and will be accompanied by a discussion with Azar Nafisi, Derek Goldman, the participating artists, and David Smith, Washington DC bureau chief of The Guardian, (Monday, April 15, 7:30pm at Woolly Mammoth 641 D Street NW).

The Chibok Girls: Our Story
The US premiere from Renegade Theatre of Nigeria. A searing work of testimonial theater about the abduction of 276 girls from their school in the Nigerian town of Chibok by the Boko Haram in 2014, and the enduring reverberations of their story. Written and directed by Wole Oguntokun, The Chibok Girls: Our Story will be presented in tandem with The Lab’s special guest Nobel Prize winning playwright and author Wole Soyinka, who will be premiering excerpts from his brand-new work A Humanist Ode for Chibok, Leah. This long-form epic poem pays tribute to 15-year-old Leah Sharibu, one of the 108 girls abducted from Dapchi by the Islamic State for the West African Province (ISWAP), a splinter group of Boko Haram, in February 2018. Leah was the only one not returned after the Nigerian government paid an enormous ransom. She refused to renounce her faith and has been held captive since. (Performances of both The Chibok Girls: Our Story and A Humanist Ode for Chibok, Leah, May 7, 8, and 11 at 7:30pm, Gonda Theatre at Georgetown University).

Renegade’s production of The Chibok Girls: Our Story and Soyinka’s accompanying presentation will be featured events at The Gathering (May 8-11 at Georgetown University’s Davis Performing Arts Center), for which The Lab will bring together more than 200 visionary artists from more than 40 countries to celebrate and highlight how their innovative work harnesses the power of performance to address the pressing challenges of our world. In an innovative, highly participatory format, The Gathering will feature inspiring productions, pop-up performances, workshops, and vibrant discussions around a suite of topics, including migration, climate, political polarization, extremism, the role of the arts on health and well-being, and much more. In addition to the performances of The Chibok Girls: Our Story, a suite of solo and pair performances will run in repertory throughout The Gathering (exact titles and times TBA), with limited ticket availability for the wider public. Throughout this four-day event, artists will be joined by thought-leaders, policymakers, activists, scholars, and the next generation of change-makers. While the sessions are by invitation only, they will be available to the public via livestream by HowlRound Theatre Commons, and members of the press with credentials are welcome to attend.

Confirmed participants in The Gathering, in addition to Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), include: award-winning performer Kathleen Chalfant (US); Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Martyna Majok(Poland/ US); Ali Mahdi and Al-Buggaa Theatre (Sudan); Bond Street Theatre (US); Iman Aoun and Ashtar Theatre (Palestine); Ambassador Martin Palous (Czech Republic); playwright Shahid Nadeem (Pakistan); author Azar Nafisi (Iran); scholar James Thompson(UK); playwright Motti Lerner (Israel); leading indigenous artist Jason Tamiru and Malthouse Theatre (Australia); playwright/performer Inua Ellams (Nigeria/UK); civic theater leadersMichael RohdMichelle HensleyMark Valdez and Nick Slie (US); journalist Raza Rumi(Pakistan); director Josette Bushell-Mingo (National Black Theatre, Sweden); director Martin Boross (Hungary); designer Irina Kruzhilina and director Yury Urnov (Russia); director Daniella Topol (US); playwright Robert Myers (Lebanon); Honey Al-Sayed (Syria); and dozens of others, including the central contribution of the Lab Fellows, ten pathbreaking artists from places such as Cambodia, Colombia, Palestine, Syria, Zimbabwe and the US.

During CrossCurrents, The Lab will also host a week-long residency featuring artists from eight European countries in partnership with embassies and cultural institutes in Washington DC, under the framework of EUNIC, the European Union National Institutes for Culture. These artists will participate in an intensive workshop residency with The Lab May 6–7 and then will be part of The Gathering May 8-11.

In addition, CrossCurrents is partnering with numerous theaters, embassies, museums, and policy organizations to highlight and amplify relevant projects at these sites and to help in creating bridges between them and the artists, approaches and themes featured in CrossCurrents.

These partners include: Alliance for New Music-TheatreArena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, the British CouncilCambodian Living ArtsCenter for International Theater DevelopmentEdinburgh International Culture SummitEuropean Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC), Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler, the Goethe-Institut, Imagination StageMosaic Theater Company, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African ArtOctopus TheatricalsOlney Theatre CenterThe Romanian Cultural InstituteRound House TheatreShakespeare Theatre CompanyStudio Theatre, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Theater JWoolly Mammoth, as well as the Embassies of Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Sweden.

CrossCurrents is funded in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Revada Foundation, with additional support provided by Samia Farouki.

For more information and tickets visit